by Jo Hughes

About Layaya

Layaya is about supporting the dreams of young people to create something that they want to see exist in the world. It is about reminding young people that their emotions and ideas are equally worthy of respect and expression. It is giving our youth a vehicle to form lasting relationships based in support, encouragement, and respect.  We provide opportunities for youth to mentor their peers, run programs, and serve as authentic advisors in the administration of Layaya. These dedicated young people strive to help the community with service projects, and they also learn the business and creative sides of the art world – making and keeping the funds generated by the artwork that they create.  Layaya members become examples of success, making their families, schools and community proud. Layaya is about highlighting the unique talents of these young people and assisting them to develop those talents as far as they wish. Layaya empowers our youth to be the leaders, managers, decision makers and successful artists that they are. By simply giving them skills to organize, encouragement, permission for expression and support they flourish.

The arts introduce us all to connectivity, engagement, and allows a sense of identification with, and responsibility for, others. Young people learn to think creatively, work on a team, and practice challenging tasks until completion. They engage in problem solving, expression of ideas, planning, and obtain skills that they will use for the rest of their lives. 

LAYAYA is a 501c3 nonprofit organization under the direction of Joannie Hughes. LAYAYA embraces and celebrates expression, creativity, inclusion and individuality.  LAYAYA does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, age, ethnicity, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, sex, marital status or disability. We recognize that our differences as human beings are a valued asset to the culture of the arts and the practice of expression. We have and strongly enforce an environment based on respect for self and others which includes a zero tolerance policy in regard to bullying or disrespectful behavior.

“LAYAYA  ARTrepreneurs”

While many of their peers are working part time jobs, cutting lawns or babysitting to earn extra money, Layaya members become “Artrepreneurs” from the art projects that they produce. As skills increase and they begin producing marketable work our artists & writers learn and earn through becoming true entrepreneurs! In addition to teaching creative art skills and being an incubator of creative ideas and projects , we mentor each member in all aspects of art as business. Many Layaya members begin earning a self – produced income from the artwork and projects that they develop with Layaya by the end of their first year of membership!  Not only do we teach and mentor each member in the fundamentals of the creative process but we help them achieve the goals that they set for themselves in an early art career.  Members are encouraged to save a portion of all income for higher education.



Louisiana Young Artists & Young Authors strives to ensure opportunities for youth from all backgrounds to do something creative and positive with their talents and their time. The goal of Layaya is to provide an environment that will inspire youth to optimize opportunities for personal growth and development by building both community and self- awareness through the arts.  Layaya fosters involvement in the arts and increased connections to the community to encourage, support, and celebrate their artistic talents and social development.  The main focus and goal is to support the development of young people into magnificent human beings through participation in creative writing, visual and performing arts. Layaya promotes activities designed to build desirable qualities of character, to train in the responsibilities of participating citizenship and to give each member a voice.  We inspire not only exceptional art but ethical choices in academics, peer relations as well as contributions to the community.  

In addition to teaching art and incubating young art careers, we are dedicated to teaching values, respect, exceptional character and support for fellow members. We strive to foster leadership qualities, cultural pride and high standards in academics as well as the arts.

We are an all-volunteer 501c3 nonprofit organization. We operate on funding and support from our LAYAYA Parent's Club Fundraisers, donations, supporting artists community partners and our Friends of LAYAYA Supporters. LAYAYA receives no federal, state or parish funding for operation.   



Creative Writing - The Author Project

LaYaYa has produced the youngest published authors in the USA. The Creative Writing project is ideal for a young person who dreams of being a published author.  Within the program, members will develop an idea for a book, write the book . The visual art members assist in cover design and illustration of the book. The book is then published via LaYaYa publishing and is for sale nationwide at bookstores, online and of course at the author's book signing events! 

Visual Arts 

Our visual arts members range from painters to illustrators to photographers and even a few sculptors! All types of visual arts are encouraged and experience and ideas are shared. Each artist produces several works and if they so choose - the artwork can be sold in an online gallery or at our art events. The artist retains the profit from any sale of artwork. Each artist also has the option of having thier own online art gallery and bio and participating in art shows in the New Orleans area. Art instruction, art business, art sales, how to price your work and how to promote your work are some of the extra topics covered in the visual arts program.

Performing Arts

Film Department - Our film department writes, films and produces webisodes, podcasts and more. 

Troupe LAYAYA is our theater program. This is an exciting performing arts program that produces live theater . Troupe LAYAYA has performed more than 37 productions in our 10 year history in theater venues all across the metro New Orleans area. Troupe LAYAYA is on hiatus through summer 2023. 

LAYAYA Music - The LAYAYA Music Department has performed at festivals, fairs and several events through the New Orleans metro area since 2018.  LAYAYA music department will audition for additional members spring 2023.  


 Each member helps the others - that is the spirit of the LAYAYA team! Peer support under mentor direction is the tradition of LAYAYA. Our visual artists may pitch in on making sets for theater or illustrate the book of our authors, our music members may perform for an art show, our creative writing members may assist in writing sketches and scripts for theater and our theater troupe may volunteer to assist with sound for music performances. All members encourage, support and help one another succeed!  It is about unity, support and creativity shared.


 Art with Heart

Each member also votes on a community cause or charity to benefit from one project that is done together by ALL members each season. The "Art with Heart" project is not optional and requires every member to give time, talent and energy to help a local charity or cause in our community. The members choose which cause that they want to support.